Judge Denise J. Casper Jumps Into The Fray

Next Up Off The Bench Judge Casper


I suppose I shouldn’t ask that question.  I never heard of her but then again I haven’t practiced in the federal district court since the days of standing before J. Arthur Garrity defending a client almost as badly vilified as James “Whitey” Bulger, the Boston School Committee.  I did notice she was highly praised by Gerry Leone, the Middlesex DA, who I respect for whom she worked so that was a point in her favor.

But being unfamiliar with her, I went to my friend Google to find out more.  Google told me that she was born in 1968 in Suffolk County, New York in a small town of around 20,000 people. She graduated from to Wesleyan College in Connecticut and from Harvard Law School in 1994. After graduation she became a law clerk in the Massachusetts Appeals Court for Judge Edith Fine, a former assistant corporate counsel for Boston. I interacted with Judge Fine  around the time of the forced busing case and was before her at times when she was a judge. She was very pleasant and thoughtful but too inclined, I thought, to seek to give a criminal another chance.

Judge Casper also clerked for Judge J. Harold Flannery, one of the lawyers on the other side of me during that same case. He was an easy guy to deal with. I’d put both of them as leaning more toward the liberal side of the equation.  During their legal careers each one would have fit comfortably with the ACLU’s philosophy.  I can’t say that’s bad for someone whose career would then be one of a prosecutor because of the balance it would give her. 

At some point she married a fellow Wesleyan graduate, Marc N. Casper. She worked in a litigation department in a biggish law firm for 3 years which would have been mainly a desk job. She then became an assistant US attorney for six years and for four years after that an assistant DA. She had about 17 years of experience and was age 41 when she was appointed by Barack Obama on the eve of 2011 to be a federal judge.

She was sworn in on January 11 of that year by Judge Mark Wolf who was 39 years of age with 14 years as a lawyer when he was appointed a judge.  She will have had two and a half years on the bench at the time the doors open for the main event. That’s certainly enough for her to have shed her learning feathers and to be comfortable in her own skin as a judge.

She’s one of 14 district court judges, of those three are in senior status. Senior status is what we’d all dream of getting some day. It’s a full-time salary with all the perqs for part-time work: 40 hours pay for 10 hours work.

There’s only one conceivable problem with her. In 1999 she joined the U.S. Attorney’s office where she remained until 2005.  These, of course, were the years of Judge Wolf’s decision in the Salemme case, the bringing down of the indictment of Whitey the case she is now assigned to handle, the John Connolly trial and many other matters surrounding Whitey’s case. Obviously she knows all the lawyers who are prosecuting Whitey and knows a lot about Whitey.

To know Whitey from inside the US Attorney’s office in Boston or from any of the media or books written about him is to definitely not like him. But none of that matters if she is capable of putting all that out of her mind and not be affected by a natural belief Whitey is guilty especially because he is being prosecuted by people she used to work with. I don’t know the judge so I don’t opine on her capability to do that, although good judges can do it since they fit comfortably into their new roles as impartial arbiters.

The Court of Appeals suggested the case be reassigned “to a judge whose curriculum vitae does not implicate the same level of institutional responsibility described here.”  It would seem at first blush that because Judge Casper worked in the U.S. attorney’s office during critical years when this case was being pursued, investigated, indicted and handled by people she worked with that she would be covered by this suggestion.  A closer reading shows the Court of Appeals was concerned with a person who would have been in a decisional making position and not one like Judge Casper.

I suppose the question that remains is how would a reasonable person think that in replacing Judge Stearns by another former U.S. Attorney who worked in the criminal division in the same office with the assistants who are now prosecuting Whitey is an improvement over the prior situation. The answer is similar to the answer the Federal Court of Appeals gave when it was noted that Judge Wolf was in the US Attorney’s office at the same time as Judge Stearns and he should have not sat on the Salemme and Flemmi hearings.  That court said that defense counsel never raised the matter so it assumes it had no problem with Judge Wolf.

Here the same situation attains. J.W. Carney said to the Court of Appeals that any other judge would be acceptable to him other than Judge Stearns. He has waived any right to complain about Judge Casper. If Whitey isn’t complaining then we should be satisfied with the selection of Judge Casper.

Therefore the stage has now been readied for the June opening.


4 thoughts on “Judge Denise J. Casper Jumps Into The Fray


  2. Matt, Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Three things. 1. I just met Gerry Leone thursday at BC; I was talking with a young BC grad, John Mulcahey, who works with Leone and whose father and uncles came from Savin Hill. You know Kevin, Steve and Phil Mulcahey. Uncle Steve was an accomplished lawyer, too. 2. Judge Flannery was one of the lead judicial culprits in the St. Pat’s Day Parade cases of 1991=1995; he wrote what he called a “bulletproof” decision,; which was upheld by the SJC (Joe Nolan was the lone dissenter); that SCJ decision was eviscerated by SCOTUS. Effectively, SCOTUS was persuaded by the erudite sole practitioner Chester Darling and upheld Nolan’s dissent which echoed federal judge Duffy’s decision on the New York St. Pat’s Parade case; Judge Duffy called a parade “a pristine form of speech”; judge Nolan accused his colleagues of “flagrantly” violating the free speech rights of the South Boston Allied War Veterans’ Council by ordering the inclusion of an unwanted group (GLIB) into the parade. I hope Judge Casper does not think like her tutor, Judge Flannery. I agree she’s not the “impartial judge” I’d hoped for, but you astutely observed Carney a priori said he’d have no objections to any other judge. He should have held his fire and kept his powder dry. To me, it sound like he’s gone from the pot to the frying pan; but maybe he’s just been thrown in the briar patch.
    3. I wrote the following letter-to-the-editor in response to a letter to the Herald written by Thomas Flaherty, Lt. USN, Ret., as he signed his name. He’s the President of a group called “Veterans for Peace.” He apparently thinks he’s the only one who knows the horrors of war and that he’s somehow cornered the market on bringing peace to the world. He demands that his group and the homosexual groups who march with his group be admitted into the South Boston Allied War Veterans’ Council annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. He doesn’t understand that the parade organizers have already fought and won that bloody battle at SCOTUS while he silently sat on the sidelines. (The Mickey Perkins Post and Paul Saunders Post are affiliated members of the Council, along with five other posts and two-thousand Veterans from South Boston and Dorchester, as I recall the figures.) Mr. Flaherty presumptuously mocked the Council members, and inferred they didn’t know what it was like to have “shrapnel hit body parts.” I thought he needed a history lesson about South Boston and America. Eight million Americans served during Vietnam and about 2 million actually served inside Vietnam. About one in ten who served in Vietnam were killed or wounded (54,000 deaths; about 200,000 other casualties.) So, I wrote the following. I hope the Herald publishes it. Words in parenthesis below were not included in the letter but are added for clarification in case some of your readers are not familiar with South Boston.
    Dear Editor,
    I commend Mr. Flaherty of Veterans for Peace for his service to this county, but take issue with his letter. War takes its horrifying toll especially on families who’ve lost loved ones to it and its aftermath: suicides, alcoholism, drug addiction. My uncle Jimmy Rogers was one of 220 South Boston veterans killed in WW II; our friends’ names ( Murphy, Griffin, Walsh, et al.,) appear on Vietnam Memorials; other relatives, close friends and neighbors have quietly borne the physical and psychic wounds of combat (Ambroses, Hutchinsons, Connollys, et al.): remember the three O’Sullivan brothers from Southie, all of whom served on Guadalcanal; and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Charlie McGillivary, from Old Harbor, who’d lost an arm in combat (and marched every year in the Veterans’ St. Pat’s parade), and our old friend Father John Saunders (a BC grad and great handball player at L-Street) whose brother Paul (a Silver Star recipient) was killed in the Pacific. (All were affiliated with the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council.) Remember, too, the civilians who sacrificed all for this country: Abraham, Martin and John, and the doctors and nurses, like Savin Hill’s Mary McCarthy, who’ve served heroically at the Veterans’, Walter Reed Army and Bethesda Naval Hospitals. You’re right, Mr. Flaherty, peace can be a “dirty word”: the Neville Chamberlain type of peace at any cost. As for your disparagement of “barroom patriots”: count Samuel Adams, John Hancock and Dr. Joseph Warren among them. We all want peace! “To everything there is a season . . . “
    Bill Connolly, a non-combat veteran and former Lt. in the USPHS

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